In Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of The New World, you will assume the role of Nelke von Lestamm, a prodigy in her own right, finishing top of her class, and an aristocrat. With her ever fateful maid, Misty Ellude, Nelke is now trying to build up the small town of Westbald. Unfortunately, she has no aptitude for Alchemy. Without the help of Alchemy, making Westbald into a vibrant town will be almost impossible. Along with this, Nelke is after relics of the past to make the world a better place.
As if almost by fate, the Alchemists of past Atelier games happen to be working on a recipe that transports them to Westbald. In turn, they help to grow the town.
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of The New World celebrates 25 years of the Atelier franchise by bringing together all the alchemists to help Nelke.
The story was so intriguing. I was instantly hooked and wanted to see how it would all play out.
The Super Puni In The Room
For starters, I will address the Super Puni in the room, Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers Of The New World is not your typical Atelier game. It is a city building game at its core. It will be upsetting a lot of the fan of the long-running JRPG, however, if given a chance, the fans will find that it still holds the charm of the past games.
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers Of The New World was made to celebrate 25 years of the Atelier franchise by bringing all the Alchemists up to the Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. In an ever-evolving storyline.
Now that it’s out of the way, let’s get on to the game.
We Need More Ateliers
The Story revolves around Nelke, a non-alchemist, a first in the Atelier franchise. It is Nelke’s job to grown Westbald from a small town, to a vibrant expanding city. To do this, Alchemist will be needed, not only are ateliers required, there will be shops, and plantations to name a few of the buildings needed to make Westbald grow.
Lucky for Nelke, she has plenty of help along the way:
Misty Ellude – Outstanding fighter and protector, and generally does everything for Nelke
Kunos – He is the new major of Westbald, helps with gathering materials, as well as helping around time.
Lotus Mcgregor – Has some history with Nelke and is now there to evaluate her progression
Pamela Ibis – One of the many returning characters in the Atelier games
Hagel Boldness – A returning character who is the builder of Westbald and is the best.
Not to mention the 33 returning characters from the 25 years of the Atelier franchise.
The Game Loop
From the start of the game, almost EVERYTHING is different; there is no open world exploration, no hands-on alchemy as it is all done automatically by setting tasks. Then, there is a lot of stuff that needs to be addressed.
The loop goes: weekday, decide to build a building or not, decide what items need to be made (commission), and sold (requests), who will be placed where in the town, make money and sell items. Once the week is over (that you do nothing and after deciding what needs to be done), there will be an overview of what happened: sales, money made, new townsfolk, and who sold or achieved the most.
Then, there is a holiday. Here, Nelke can chat to the townsfolk and grow the friendship or you can go out and investigate. Talking to townspeople can improve friendships, get new recipes, and new jobs. As this is an Atelier game, ever action is timed, talking to people will take two segments out of 16, that is the end of the holiday.
The investigation is the material gathering and fighting segment. Unfortunately, it feels like it was tacked on and it is relatively dull. The point is to get to the end of the path and move on to the next area, all the while trying to complete the tasks set by Nelke’s father. Then repeat, over and over.
The whole game is menu after menu, with submenus – there is a lot of menus. The whole game is played but clicking menus after menus… this takes the play away from direct action and making it more of a simulator. I do not feel as if Koei Tecmo advertised the game as what it really is – a sim city style atelier game.
The investigations are the part of the game that feels the most like an Atelier game but is still so far from Atelier game. Start by picking a party that will go out on an investigation, this will start with four attacking party members and two in support.
The party then goes to the selected area and walks, talks, and collects items. There is a distance bar that must be met to get to the next area; in the end, there will be a fight or a chest. The investigation is timed on the holiday and the less Nelke talks to the townsfolk, the more time for investigation.
The investigations have buffs that can be bought to increase speed, more items, and so on. Speaking of buying, to get the next area, it has to be paid for, it’s a little different from just clearing an area and finding the next.
The support acts on their own with no input. The attack system is very simple: pick a normal attack, then get a green point, this allows for stronger attacks. When attacking or being attacked, the Burst gauge fills. Once full, activating it will increase the attack and defense of the party.
This is one of the more important aspects that the player will have control on, but as you can tell, not that much control, it is a massively missed opportunity for the game to limit the battle system.
The Visual Novel
The Atelier games are known for the visual novel style storytelling with its excellent writing, and Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers Of The New World is no exception. The story that unfolds is really good; genuine laugh out loud moments along with the light-hearted take on everything that is going on even when there is something dark going on. It does not disappoint in that regard.
For myself, it was the best part of the game
The soundtrack as a whole, is short with ten tracks in total, but the tracks are what anyone who has played an Atelier game would expect – playful, upbeat, happy ditties that are all wonderfully composed and arranged by veteran Atelier composers Daisuke Achiwa and Kazuki Yanagawa.
The game is voice acted throughout. With this being a game made by GUST, all the voice acting is of a high standard, as well as returning voice talent from the Arland series – Check out my review of the Arland Delux Pack– among others.
Overall, the audio is excellent. I would have liked more tracks to listen to. I would gladly listen to the soundtrack outside of the game.
Visuals & Performance
Visually, Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World is bright, colourful, and vivid. Again this goes with the rest of the Atelier games. I, for one, love the vivid colours and the anime style characters.
The town that is being built, even though it is also bright and colourful, felt somewhat too simplistic in design, almost too cartoon-ish for my liking. Do not get me wrong, it looks lovely, but it does not seem to fit in with the rest of the towns visited it the franchise.
The visuals feels away in the gathering and fighting stages, they felt lifeless and passing the same treeline and rock over and over was, well, dull and boring. This was made worse by the fact that the group travels in a straight line.
Performance-wise, there was a few stutters here and there, nothing too noticeable so it does not detract from the experience. I played both in handheld and docked. They both play well with no significant problems. I did play mainly in the docked mode as it does eat away at the battery.
Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World hits home as a full price game at $59.99 USD, £49.99 GBP. For some, this will be a hard pill to swallow if they believe it is going to be a hands-on JRPG Atelier experience as this is far from that. I would highly recommend waiting for a sale. There will be the fans that will have no problem paying full price for this game, that is totally fine.
I would class myself as a big fan of these games, and I would highly recommend a sale over a full price buy, I would be doing my readers a disservice if i said anything else.
Character spanning all the Atelier games
Story and interactions
Top class audio
Not a true Atelier game
Lacklustre JRPG mechanics